Welcome back to The Chopping Block! The place where we take an average deck and chop it into more refined pieces. With this information, you will be able to create a deck that feels like your own and is competitive to boot. This week we’ll be looking at a series decks to fulfill your mob life fantasy.
Krenko, Mob Boss is the most notorious crime leaders in the Magic multiverse and for good reason. No other goblin gets quite the same following. The Shattergang Brothers couldn’t even touch this mob boss when he whacked the youngest of the three. His dominance can be seen by the sheer number of Krenko players. He’s toting a total of 1,285 decks on EDHREC. That makes him the most played red commander out there! His ability to instantly dredge out countless lowlife goblins from his crime syndicate is unparalleled in the game. There isn’t even an activation cost for this amazing ability. The only downside is that it requires some goblins in play if you want it to impact the game in any sort of meaningful time. Luckily, goblins are in no shortage on almost any plane. Most Krenko decks stick to the idea of pumping out lots of goblins and attacking for the win. Below you’ll find the average decklist for Krenko on EDHREC. This list contains cards chosen because of their frequency of use in the 1,285 decks polled with by EDHREC.
This deck keeps one objective in sight, cast Krenko and make goblins. That’s a great plan for most games, but I also included some subpar card choices. For instance, Mana Echoes can produce tons of mana in this deck, but there is nothing to spend all that colorless mana on. Sure it’s easy enough to add a few Fireball-type effects, but this deck isn’t built to ramp into 30-40 mana right now. Throne of the God-Pharaoh is another odd inclusion. While it sounds awesome that it’ll deal damage equal to your creatures each turn, remember that the new creatures don’t always have haste and will most likely be untapped. Now that means it will maybe do damage equal to half of the creatures you control, and that’s not exactly something that makes the cut for the most played goblin in the land. I’ve cut many of the cards I think are below playability. Being red, most of these decks actually come in pretty low on the budget scale as well, other than the Wheel of Fortune. The three decks we’re looking at today include tribal goblins, enter the battlefield triggers, and paradoxical shenanigans!
“It takes many stepping stones, you know, for a man to rise. None can do it unaided”
Mafioso Bonanno had the right idea, and Krenko clearly engrained this idea into his criminal underworld. He brings all his family and friends to each game. This variation focuses on the easiest build for Krenko: goblins! We’re packing 34 additional goblins. Our bread and butter goblins are the lords: Goblin Chieftain, Goblin King, Goblin Warchief, and Metallic Mimic. These goblins, and one shapeshifter, let your gang swing in for lethal amounts of damage; while they also provide small buffs like haste and mountainwalk. This tends to be a faster build, as the average CMC comes to around two and a half. You’ve also got cards to cheat goblins in or reduce their cost.
Goblins are a diverse crowd, as such, there are some pretty unique abilities to take advantage of in this deck. Ib Halfheart, Goblin Tactician allows you to grow your mob for Krenko without the need of other goblins. Sacrificing lands may seem steep, but if you sacrifice just two lands and use Krenko you get another six goblins. Ib Halfheart allows you to recover from a wrath seemingly in a single turn. His other ability makes it more likely for your goblins to connect. Goblin Assassin is your go-to hitman. While the CMC is high, the effect combined with Krenko’s token production almost always ensures you wipe the board of your opponents’ creatures. You get to keep, on average, half of the tokens you make from this.
Skirk Fire Marshal tends to be underrated in Krenko decks. It allows you clear the board and damage everyone at the same time. This is usually counter-intuitive to the goal of the deck, but if you have the correct cards it can be devastating. The main two pieces included are Eldrazi Monument and Coat of Arms. Both help your team live through a ten damage hit, while hopefully performing a hit on anything your opponents playing. You can also add in sources of lifelink, Basilisk Collar, and now you gain ten life for each player and creature in play. That is 60 life for one opponent and 5 goblins (including himself which is pro-red.) Our most underhanded trick comes with Goblin Charbelcher and Goblin Recruiter. Stack your deck with around 20 goblins, using the recruiter, then use the belcher. If a mountain is hit that adds up to 40 damage!
One notable exclusion is Goblin Rabblemaster. It does produce goblins and it gets big, but the fact that all your other goblins have to attack is too detrimental to the deck. We use Goblin Piledriver for our monstrous size muscle. Take Ib Halfhearts advice on not attacking with everyone and avoid Rabblemaster when you can.
“You can get much farther with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone.”
If red has one thing more than any other color it’s guns. Krenko brings everything from the Remington Model 870 to the Thompson 1928. Red loves it some enter the battlefield effects, ETB. This version takes advantage of the fact that Krenko can pump out an absurd number of tokens. The problem you usually have with the previous version are wraths. While the deck was built to try and rebuild as fast as possible, it’s still difficult to deal with wrath after wrath. Each meta you play in will be different and these two decks are great examples of making choices based on the meta. The first deck plays well against spot removal. You don’t really care if they remove Krenko since you’ve got 34 other playable goblins. This time around we bring other token production and don’t really care about removal as much. We cut our number of goblins down drastically to fit in token producers that make more than one goblin.This way we can get more out of Krenko with fewer actual cards. This is an important difference due to the fact that our damage will be coming from triggers from entering or leaving the battlefield, and not the combat damage. We’ve got quite a few options for damage from triggers.
We’ve got 13 effects that give us two or more goblins. That means Krenko will usually be tapping to create four or more goblins the majority of the time. However, we can’t rely on just tapping once per turn to win. So I’ve included a suite of cards aimed at copying the ability or untapping Krenko. Illusionist’s Bracers, Rings of Brighthearth, Thousand-Year Elixir, and Sword of the Paruns are the bullets to Krenkos Tommy Gun. Even with one, it brings the number of goblins produced in one turn from four to eight on average. The closest thing to a good fedora I could find was a fancy pair of Pyromancer’s Goggles. It may be an expensive mana rock every now and then, but when you combine it with one of the token producing sorceries you can flood the board easily without Krenko.
Slate of Ancestry gives access to huge amounts of card draw. With this card, you should be able to find one of our win conditions. The other two win conditions are Voracious Dragon and Burn at the Stake. Each one lets you take out a single player with between 13 to 20 goblins on board. With the number of ghostly prison effects in commander being played, these are one of the few ways we have to get around those enchantments.
Mafia is a process, not a thing. Mafia is a form of clan – cooperation to which it’s individual members pledge lifelong loyalty….Friendship, connections, family ties, trust, loyalty, obedience – this was the glue that held us together.
Krenkos final deck leaves us to ponder the paradox that is the Goblin Mafia. How does one have organized crime in the chaotical goblin society? I think it may be due to a certain Paradox Engine that Krenko has stashed in a warehouse down on Tin street somewhere. Let’s not contemplate on how this contraption ended up in Ravinca, looking at you Jace, but we will not waste the opportunity to fuel our mafia with more members than we thought possible. Somehow there are only 72 decks out of the 1,285 that includes the engine. This card is in general busted in most decks. However, due to Krenkos doubling ability, it takes very few triggers to make take over a game. We do have to attack the deck building at a different angle. We take out quite a few goblins, leaving only those that are cheap or work with Paradox Engine. On top of that, we need to add in mana rocks so that we can continue to cast spells. Finally, there are several effects that easily loop themselves and enable infinite untaps, mana, and creatures.
Our team of hired goons for this deck is based on activated abilities that tap. These work as a backup plan in the event that you can’t use Krenko for the turn you go off. Many of them simply deal damage, for instance Lightning Crafter or Goblin Sharpshooter. They double as a win condition, and more importantly removal. Goblin Lookout provides multiple pumps per turn that can add up quickly. Just two activations make the smallest goblin into a 5/1. Our trickest member, Goblin Welder, has some incredibly deceptive interactions with Paradox Engine. Basically, if he’s out with the engine you get two artifact activations out of every loop of the engine. Where this becomes important is on turns that you don’t have enough mana to continue the loop. If you have a Mind Stone in play and Basalt Monolith in your graveyard, you can tap the Mind Stone for one and swap it out for another three mana. It also provides recursion for the Engine itself. In Commander, many players know things like to come back from the yard, so the Welder can actually sacrifice your engine in response to an exile effect, like Revoke Existence. It also saves it from the graveyard should someone activate a Relic of Progenitus. Welder just fills many of your needs for this deck.
Our artifact package includes 15 mana rocks. These are important because Paradox Engine only untaps nonland permanents and we need to obtain mana each time we untap. We use a slew of other artifacts to help get our win conditions or the engine.
Once we have the engine in place we need things to help keep triggering it. Drawing cards with our artifacts refill our hands and hopefully get us more spells. Our Goblin Mafia likes to more organized when it comes to going infinite though. Cloudstone Curio works with our cheap goblin spells. Ancestral Statue is one the best loop enablers. It can return itself to hand, so all you need is four mana worth of rocks and another tap effect to win. Crown of Flames is another self-contained enabler of Paradox Engine. It does require two red mana, which can be challenging with our mana rocks. Haze of Rage is one of the cheapest buyback cards available. The pump also just happens to work well with Krenkos ability. Just casting it twice you get +3/+0.
Ixalan has brought us a gem in monored, Vance’s Blasting Cannons. Many people are skipping over this enchantment, mainly because the flip side is not great. However, they’re missing the beauty that is cheap card draw in a color that doesn’t really get it. It does exile the card if you don’t use it, but the risk is worth it. It managed to sneak into 2 decks this week. While it’s not game-winning, it is card advantage that doesn’t attract removal. Compared to a Phyrexian Arena it only cost an additional one. Almost no one would want to waste a Disenchant on this card though. If you manage to flip it over, the land is actually pretty decent. It basically means your opponents can’t play a creature with three or less toughness. Then you can still toss three damage at a player right before your turn. Don’t just trust me on this, go and try it out for your self in one of your red decks.
Krenko is one of the harder commanders to build out. He has a unique ability, but there aren’t many ways to use that ability. I’ve tried to delve into what happens after you’ve activated the ability or how often you can activate it. Our tribal deck focuses on pumping the tokens we get from Krenko, while not being reliant on his ability to flood the board. However, when you drop him he adds lethal amounts of goblins. Our machine gun damage build uses red token generation, combined with Krenko, to stack triggers on ETB effects This build was the least susceptible to Ghostly Prison cards. The final build used Paradox Engine to power the mafia in the war for Tin street. It brings a combo avenue to a monored deck that usually just goes wide for the win. Each deck has a place in different metas. Choosing how to structure a deck to fit with who play is important to winning and having fun. Each one these decks can be neutered by meta changes. I like to keep multiple builds of decks available. That way you can change the deck between weeks. This keeps your playgroup guessing on what you’re playing. Thanks for reading and let me know how you build the charismatic mob boss.